I'd like to introduce Conqueror Alkithoe, level 75 HC naked zon. The name means "hot-headed" or "stubborn might", which suits her well. Her amazon sisters laughed in her face at the very idea of surviving without gear for very long. Their mocking drove her to attempt this, out of spite! [/backstory].
I've seen the idea mentioned a bit, and I feel it's possible (though improbable) to make Guardian. I have plenty of experience with zons, including a Guardian tankazon which had a strong decoy and valk. Hopefully I can continue to draw on that experience and make a decent run into Hell.
My personal rules:
1. No ESC to avoid death.
2. Full clears, including all evil urns (Norm and NM were completed at p8)
3. Single-pass, no re-running areas or bosses.
4. No gear of any kind, and no charms.
5. Merc is allowed to wear gear.
6. ATMA allowed as an extended stash.
Summary of Normal Difficulty:
My first few skill points went into Critical Strike, to boost my punching damage. I drew nearby packs of monsters towards Flavie so she could help. I often revisited an Attack Shrine while clearing the Cold Plains. I even cast Inner Sight! Eventually I leveled enough to hire a Fire Rogue. The hard part was over! All my stat points went to Vit, and new skill points to Dodge. I served as a meat shield, tanking large groups and Dodging while the rogue shot them down.
In Act 2 I hired a Defiance Merc, and used the savage recipe until I got a Partizan. Of course he couldn't yet equip it, so I rerolled it a few times and got a Deadly Partizan with 2 sockets (stuffed with 2 jewels for -30% requirements). Quickly he started annihilating everything. I expanded my D/A/E skills and built up Decoy.
In Act 3 I added a Valkyrie and built her to level 6. Then I went back to improving my Decoy. The synergy makes the young valk quite durable, while keeping her weapon weak so the merc can get most kills (for MF purposes). Finishing Normal was no problem. Here's Alkithoe avoiding Baal.
Far from being a passive watcher, I need to keep Alkithoe fairly active. Sometimes I simply need to run away from attacking monsters, to save my skin. With no crowd control whatsoever, it's often necessary for me to step up and tank and/or lure monsters to certain spots. Her duties include:
1. Blocking mummy caskets.
2. Boxing in monsters that like to flee, such as apes, Zakarum, and Council Members.
3. Punching unravelers and shamen, to keep them from resurrecting. (A well-placed Decoy can also do this, as long as the monster doesn't move.)
4. Punching Oblivion Knights, to draw their curses and save my gang from IM.
5. Casting Slow Missiles.
6. Constantly recasting the valk (or unsummoning) to ensure merc gets boss kills.
7. Tanking physical attacks, to protect merc's flank from "monster overflow."
Summary of NM Difficulty:
My first scare came in Act 1. Massive stairstrap in The Hole. Smooth sailing for a while after that mess. Hired a new merc in Act 2, Mizan (Holy Freeze). His new weapon was a rare Bec-de-Corbin with 89%ED and Amp Damage. Not too shabby, although it had Knockback which was often a nuisance. His armor was plain socketed stuff with 4 PTopaz in the body armor and 3 in the helm.
By the time I advanced to Act 4, I was getting nervous because I had nothing of quality for merc end-game gear.
I had my first NDE, when I was attacked by a CELE pack of Gloams while seeking Izual. Even with Decoy scouting, it's impossible to dodge all the lightning. I'm relying on high-level Avoid and Evade to reduce the damage. Slow Missiles helps, but it's easy to get hit while casting it.
The first end-game drop came from NM Hellforge. An Um rune! That will likely go towards a "Duress" armor or "Crescent Moon" polearm.
The next quality drop came from Big D, (after I scored a few punches.) He dropped the unique partizan, Pierre Tombale Couant, with near-perfect 219% ED, +185 AR, and the awesome 55% Deadly Strike. Big damage boost.
In Act 5 I found Woestave Halberd, and upgraded it to a Bec-de-Corbin. I'm a huge fan of this polerarm. Lots of nice bonuses. It's used for special circumstances when I need slowing, freeze-shattering, or Open Wounds.
A normal monster in the Halls of Anguish dropped Shaftstop, soon followed by Vampire Gaze in the Glacial Trail. :grin: The hot streak ended there.
WSK had some incredibly tough monster rolls. Witches, spawners, and snakes on level 1; followed by Witches, Knights, and Frenzytaurs on level 3. By this time, I had a level 20 valkyrie, heavily synergized, and she tanked well, needing only a few recasts. Mizan used the Woestave against Baal, and owned him. The slowing, chilling, and Holy Freeze stopped him completely. He never moved. Nothing useful from his drop. :sad2:
next post--- stats and merc gear...